ParkTalk Podcast

Naperville Park District, serving a large Chicago suburb, shares stories of people passionate about health, nature, sports, community and everything related to parks and recreation.

Listen On

Send us your questions and ideas for future episodes!
Email Sameera at or Sue at

Selected Episodes

For a complete list of episodes, visit

The Rewards of Gardening

September 15, 2023
In this episode, we hear from two gardeners about the joys, challenges and surprises of the 2023 gardening season at the Naperville Park District’s Garden Plots. Our guests are Priyanka, who rented a plot for the first time, and Barb, who has maintained a plot for many years and is a master gardener.

Guests: Priyanka and Barb
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

Summer Camp Reflections

August 17, 2023
Day camp staff leaders Cori and George reflect on the summer day camp experience, noting kids' creativity, fun memories and strengths of the program.

Guests: George and Cori
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

Senior Softball Legends

June 30, 2023
Two 89-year-old ball players from the Naperville Park District’s Over 50 Softball League explain why they love the game and what keeps them coming back year after year.

Guests: Toru Fugii and Chris Argianas
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

Naperville's Unique Centennial Beach

May 24, 2023

Learn what makes Naperville's Centennial Beach a favorite summer destination. Two staff members familiar with Beach operations explain how it is unique and why people love it.

Guests: Andrea Coates and Brett Sprague
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S34 Episode 03: Science-based Careers in Parks

April 28, 2023

Ben Palczynski, Park Specialist II with the Naperville Park District, tells how his career has given him flexibility and the opportunity to apply his knowledge of horticulture in his daily work.

Guest: Ben Palczynski
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S34 Episode 02: Careers for New Graduates

April 12, 2023

Marissa Kula, a Naperville Park District staff member, tells how a part-time position in customer service at the Park District opened doors to new career opportunities for her in the field of parks and recreation.

Guest: Marissa Kula
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S34 Episode 01: Internships

March 21, 2023

Brad Wilson, executive director of the Naperville Park District, recalls highlights of his internship, which began his career at the District over 24 years ago, and he shares advice for college students currently seeking internships.

Guest: Brad Wilson
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S33: 2023 State of the Naperville Park District

February 1, 2023

This 5-episode series features interviews with Park District leaders and elected officials with a theme of "Sustainability" as it pertains to District operations across the organization in addition to providing a retrospective of 2022. This is the sixth year that we have offered the State of the Naperville Park District as a podcast series hosted by Sameera Luthman, Director of Marketing and Communications.

Host: Sameera Luthman

Listen Now

S32 Episode 02: Lifelong Fitness in All Seasons

January 13, 2023

Diana, a fitness member and part-time customer service representative at Fort Hill Activity Center, recounts her fitness journey from her early years as a teacher to her current life as a retiree.

Guest: Diana Cramer
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S32 Episode 01: Sustainable Fitness for a Healthy Life

December 16, 2022

Melissa, a fitness member and part-time fitness attendant at Fort Hill Activity Center, explains how she overcame injuries and finds joy in pursuing her current fitness goals.

Guest: Melissa Olivares
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S31 Episode 03: Spring Blooms

December 29, 2022

Ed Hedborn, manager of plant records at the Morton Arboretum, describes the earliest signs of spring growth in our Northern Illinois trees, from the greening of the willow twigs to the blooms of the crabapple trees.

Guest: Ed Hedborn
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S31 Episode 02: Invaders in our Natural Areas

November 1, 2022

Two Naperville Park District staff members explain what invasive trees and shrubs are and why it’s important to remove them from natural areas to promote a healthy ecosystem.

Guest: Peggy Motta and Jesse Barr
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S31 Episode 01: Fall Colors

October 14, 2022

Ed Hedborn, manager of plant records at the Morton Arboretum and author of the Arboretum’s Fall Color Report, explains some of the factors behind the timing and variations in color of our fall foliage.

Guest: Ed Hedborn
Host: Sue Omanson

Listen Now

S30 Episode 04: Work and Play at the Golf Courses

September 26, 2022 

Kevin Carlson, director of golf at the Naperville Park District, talks about the opportunities available for retirees to work as well as play golf at Springbrook and Naperbrook Golf Courses.

Listen Now

S30 Episode 03: A Dramatic Recovery Leads to an Active Retirement

August 31, 2022

Jim, a fitness attendant at Fort Hill Fitness and a former executive in a large corporation tells of how he survived a major health crisis and is now enjoying an active retirement. 

Listen Now

S30 Episode 02: Finding a Fun Retirement Job

August 19, 2022

After a 40-year career in the health care field, Don retired and then found not just one, but several fun, part-time jobs at the Naperville Park District. In this episode, he explains how these different jobs have enriched his life. 

Listen Now

S30 Episode 01: Volunteering in Retirement

July 25, 2022

Former business owner Marty Ceranek tells how he successfully transitioned to retirement and why he enjoys volunteering at the Naperville Park District. 

Listen Now

S29 Episode 04: Meet Our Volunteer Beekeeper

July 5, 2022

Volunteer beekeeper Joe Bourassa explains how to help honey bees thrive and shares his passion for insects, their wellbeing and their importance to our ecosystem.

Listen Now

S29 Episode 03: Digging in to Beautify Parks

June 1, 2022

Two park staff members tell how volunteers provide invaluable help in taking care of natural areas, keeping Riverwalk flowers blooming, and helping the Park District maintain parks across the community.

Listen Now

S29 Episode 02: The Rewards of Coaching

May 5, 2022

Parent volunteers Chris and Kelly, who are coaching 3 soccer teams this season, tell why they love coaching their kids' teams and how others can get involved.

Listen Now

S29 Episode 01: A Fresh Look at our Volunteer Program

April 11, 2022

Meet our new volunteer and events manager, Becca Krzyszkowski, and learn about the many ways to get involved as a volunteer in parks and recreation.

Listen Now

S28 Episode 02: Team Gymnastics

March 14, 2022

Gymnastics coordinator Karen Schmidt tells how young gymnasts enjoy the Naperville Park District’s in-house team experience, making friends and gaining confidence while they learn the basics of competition in this popular sport. 

Listen Now

S28 Episode 01: A New Life at 90

March 1, 2022

Fitness participant Louise shares her experience of moving to Naperville in 2020 in her late 80s and fitting in as a participant in the popular group exercise classes at Fort Hill Activity Center with others half her age. 

Listen Now

S27 The 2022 State of the Naperville Park District Address

February 2, 2022

The 2022 State of the Naperville Park District Address includes seven episodes covering a variety of topics on the theme, “Rebuilding and Renewing.” Director of Marketing and Communications Sameera Luthman interviews Park Board President Marie Todd, Executive Director Brad Wilson, the four new commissioners who were elected in 2021 and other Park District staff.

Listen Now

S26 Episode 04: Volunteer Stewardship

January 21, 2022  

Volunteer and retired teacher David Cleveland shares stories from decades of environmental projects with children and adults and his nature experiences while running locally and internationally. 

Listen Now

S26 Episode 03: Winter Wildlife

December 13, 2021

Nature Center Manager Angelique Harshman gives insight into the needs and habits of common animals and birds that overwinter in northern Illinois, where to see them, bird feeding tips, and how to look for animal tracks in the snow.

Listen Now

S26 Episode 02: Protecting and Appreciating Fireflies

November 22, 2021

Dr. Doug Taron, biologist and Chief Curator of the Chicago Academy of Sciences at the Peggy Notebaert Museum, discusses the unique characteristics of fireflies and how to appreciate and protect them.

Listen Now

S26 Episode 01: Sustainability on a Local Level

November 9, 2021

Ben Mjolsness, the City of Naperville’s first Sustainability Coordinator, discusses the City’s opportunities for working with local partners to make progress in saving energy, reducing waste and conserving our natural environment on a local level.

Listen Now

S25 Episode 03: A Creative Expansion of the Disc Golf Course

October 7, 2021

John Teper and Spencer Huard explain the latest improvements to the disc golf course at Knoch Knolls Park and why they enjoy the sport and this location. 

Listen Now

S25 Episode 02 – Driving a Cleaner, Greener Fleet

September 13, 2021

Lee Meyer, a fleet technician for the Naperville Park District, explains the latest improvements that make the District’s vehicles and equipment cleaner, greener, safer and more efficient.  

Listen Now

S25 Episode 031 Everyday Inventions for Better Parks

August 20, 2021

John Teper, one of the park operations managers for the Naperville Park District, shares some of the innovations that staff has developed to solve everyday problems. These include a dust shield for a baseball field groomer, a paint mixing station, floating islands of native plants in ponds and more. 

Listen Now

S24 Episode 03: Healthy Minds for Senior Adults

July 28, 2021

Geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Sachin Bhalerao explains the challenges of isolation for older adults and offers hope and practical advice for those recovering from mental illnesses that may have developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also discusses the importance of structure and social contact in maintaining a healthy mind in both good and bad times. 

Listen Now

S24 Episode 02: Boosting Mental Wellness

July 14, 2021

Gina Sharp, President and CEO of Linden Oaks Behavior Health, comments on the mental health pandemic that has occurred with COVID-19 and gives tips for returning to work, coping with stress, connecting with nature and getting the rest we need.

Listen Now

S24 Episode 01: Kids, Stress and Mental Health

June 24, 2021

KidsMatter is a local nonprofit working to empower kids to realize their purpose, know their value and find their pathway. Executive Director and CEO Nina Menis describes the community resources available to help youth cope with anxiety and emerge stronger from the pandemic. 

Listen Now

S23 Episode 02: Gold Star Families Memorial

May 25, 2021

Jennifer Slown and Lew Breese describe the future Gold Star Families Memorial planned for Veterans Park in Naperville, why it's important and how others can help. 

Listen Now

S23 Episode 01: Pull-Up Bars for Patriots

May 13, 2021

Gregg Kantz, founder of the nonprofit organization, Pull-Up Bars for Patriots, explains why he wants to honor fallen service members by installing pull-up bar memorials in parks. So far, two memorials are installed: one in Wheaton and the newest one in Naperville at Wolf's Crossing Community Park. 

Listen Now

S22 Episode 04: Wildflower Walks

April 28, 2021

Nature Center Manager Angelique Harshman takes us on a spring wildflower walk in the woods at Knoch Knolls Park. Learn about what to look for and what makes these flowers unique. Bluebells and mayapples at Knoch Knolls Park.

Listen Now

S22 Episode 03: Appreciating Monarch Butterflies

April 7, 2021

Pat Miller, a master naturalist, master gardener and conservation specialist, tells the story of the monarch butterfly, its amazing migration to and from Mexico, its plight and how everyone can help. Photo taken at the Idea Gardens at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots, Naperville Park District. Photo by Ron Ory.

Listen Now

S22 Episode 02: Bird Watching

March 16, 2021

Steve Constantelos and Joe Suchecki from the DuPage Birding Club talk about birdwatching in the Naperville area and how to get started. 

Listen Now

S22 - Episode 01: Trail Running in Winter

March 2, 2021

Bob Langerveld, an experienced runner, member of the Chicago Area Runners Association and staff member of Naperville Running Company, shares tips for running outdoors in winter and why he enjoys it. 

Listen Now

S21 The 2021 State of the Naperville Park District Address

January 29, 2021

This 5-episode series features interviews with Park District leaders and elected officials who share insights into current and future Park District projects and plans.    

Listen Now

S20 Episode 03 Virtual Fitness

January 25, 2021

Fitness instructors Karen Moranchek and Mary Sullivan and participant Kathy Leis discuss the challenges and benefits of group fitness classes on Zoom, and how virtual classes help keep us healthy during a pandemic and beyond.

Listen Now

S20 Episode 01 Big Moves

December 1, 2020

Instructor Maura Connor and participant Hugh Flanders discuss a new class, BIG Moves, that helps those diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Listen Now

S19 Episode 04 Spotlight on Golf

November 10, 2020

Golfer Jon Lee and his daughter, Abby, tell how golfing enriched their lives this summer during the pandemic. Director of Golf Kevin Carlson reflects on the growth of golf at Naperville Park District's two courses and the challenges of operating during COVID-19.

Listen Now